A Sugar Creek team recently competed in the largest national mine rescue competition.

The Central Plains Cement mine rescue team traveled to Lexington, Kentucky, to compete at the 2014 National Metal and Non-metal Mine Rescue Contest Aug. 4-7. Forty-one teams from 14 states competed in three events: A mine rescue field competition, which was a simulated mine emergency; technician team, where the team troubleshot and repaired a self-contained breathing apparatus; and first aid, a real-life first response scenario.

“For the competition, it’s all based on being technically correct and time efficient,” said Eagle Materials Public Affairs Director Steve Kidwell. “In real life, it’s all about consistent training and practicing to keep sharp.”

The Central Plains Cement team took 16th overall out of 41 teams at the competition. Being on a mine rescue team is voluntary and in addition to a mine worker’s regular responsibilities, said Kidwell.

In order to be part of a mine rescue team, you have to be very physically fit, said Kidwell. “You must pass annual physical tests and be able to operate under stress while using a self-contained breathing apparatus.” Plus having a high level commitment to maintain technical knowledge and safety procedures is crucial, he added.

“Their goal isn’t just to win,” said Kentucky Crushed Stone Assocation Executive Director Ronald H. Gray in a release, “it’s to be the best they can be when it comes to saving lives.”

The Sugar Creek team was founded in 2000 and so far has not been called on to save someone trapped in a mine. It serves three caves/mines in Sugar Creek, as well as being the backup mine rescue team at the Martin-Marietta underground mines in Clay and Platte counties.

"It’s also about being ready for a moment that we hope will never come," wrote Mine Safety and Health Administration Assistant Secretary of Labor Joseph Main about the Mine Rescue Contest.